Nation in Distress

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Bill and I are being evicted from our home. No kidding. Tonight I am packing a small bag with just what I can carry, my PJs, jeans, and clean shirt, plus toothbrush and a box the size of a Whitman’s Sampler full of my prescription pills. Hope I have everything because we will not be allowed back in our home for at least 48 hours. We, however, have been planning for this. In fact we have packed up all the breakables in the china cabinet and moved all the furniture into the den: Table, chairs, silver chest, even teapots had to come off the window ledge in the breakfast room. Akkk! I almost forgot my makeup and hair paraphernalia.
Actually, we are spending the next couple of nights across the street with a very kind neighbor while the hardwood floors in our kitchen and den are being sanded and refinished. But we both agreed that we could just about as easily have traveled to a Sandals Resort for all the trouble to vacate for only two nights. While I packed, I grumbled at the inconvenience and then realized how stupid and how selfish I was. I began to think of the many, many people displaced so abruptly by the recent spate of tornadoes that have ripped through Alabama and Georgia.
Our neighbors in communities not far from us did not have several days to prepare a bag, to grab their wallets or their toothbrushes, nor even the precious medications which might, if not quickly replaced, cause serious consequences. No, they were fortunate if they had time to escape with the clothes on their backs. That one thing alone has made me more aware than anything of the terrible after effects of those devastating storms which every Spring wreak such havoc all across the United States.
Watching the news reports and listening to eye-witness accounts of storms that don’t even get names, (Spring of 2019 I guess), hearing the horror relived by the survivors, and finally, seeing those families come back to scrape through their scattered belongings amidst the rubble of what was once their homes, makes me incredibly sad and yet, I have to admit that I thank God each time my loved ones and I are spared.
What I am also very aware of, particularly in this ugly climate where everyone is talking about the divisiveness of our country and its people, of the hatefulness of one to another, I see the exact opposite after every storm, every fire, and every tragedy. Our people pull together. The churches open their doors to any denomination — to atheists and agnostics alike. Hundreds of volunteers from Red Cross, Salvation Army, even Hell’s Angels, are ready with a cup of hot coffee and a sandwich. They don’t ask what political party you are affiliated with before they hand out clean, dry clothes, pillows, and blankets and direct you to a warm place to sleep.
SBDR, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, is the third largest disaster response team in the nation, and are currently serving survivors in the tornado ravaged areas. You’ve seen their bright yellow vest; they are often the first to arrive on the scene and are there cleaning up long after the news cameras have left town. This network of state-based volunteer teams served 2.2 million meals and logged 820,000-plus hours last year. They care for those who are bereft and grief stricken as one friend for another, with sincere smiles of sympathy, warm embraces, and an ear to listen.
Those to whom we have given the charge to do their best for us while in the Congress or the Senate, State and National, would do well to look, listen, learn, and be motivated by just such actions as one can see performed by the citizens of this great country whenever there is a natural disaster; whenever there is dire need. And there assuredly is today a great need for our Senators and Congressmen to put their constant bickering, back-biting, and partisanship aside in order to work together for the good of this nation. Please, put away the ambitious struggles for personal power and the hunger for aggrandizement before it is too late.
Andy Stanley, an Atlanta-based non-denominational pastor and teacher, recently shared a lesson from the book of James which we can all learn from. It is an elementary lesson, designed for new Christians, for Jews and Gentiles, for all citizens of the world. James 1:19 reminds us “. . . don’t ever forget that it is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry, for anger doesn’t make us good . . .”
Simple, right? Stanley summed up this lesson with the idea that being “right” shouldn’t always be our goal, being “right with one another” is what we should strive for. Imagine if we all tried to listen carefully, to ask questions of one another; to attend to their answers respectfully so that we might better understand another’s view. We might also, humbly, offer the respect that every person wants and that could and will lead to compromise or certainly to better understanding. That part is not simple, but it is profound and it is critical in today’s world. Without consideration, compromise, and wise choices, we will fail to be the people we were meant to be: “the United States of America…the Republic”. . . “one Nation under God.”

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